As a Scouting volunteer and Eagle Scout, I have been trained in some manner of response to witnessing acts of child or sexual abuse. The actions of Mike McQueery and Joe Paterno are largely consistent with this training.
Cases like this allow me to question and attempt to understand both the strong points and weak points of this procedure. Furthermore, the reasons.
What follows is a free associated line of thinking based on some personal experiences and reflection.
The true nature of innocence is the ability to view human morality in absolute terms of black and white. There is right and wrong, and no shades of grey. Perhaps, on some very fundamental level, the heinous outcome of sexual abuse for the child is that they are given such a contradictory action to place into a very absolute view of morality. Perhaps the damage is wrought because a very fragile, yet very resilient psyche must deal with a very complicated action. Children are not yet capable of determining the morality of actions that are complex. Even teenagers and people into their early twenties cannot. Some never can. More on this later.
Amongst Jerry Sandusky's alleged crimes is the idea that he perverted a very loving act that can be shared by consenting adults for children not yet capable of navigating the shades of grey that are the true nature of human morality. Sandusky's own needs came before preserving the natural development of a child's moral view. Perhaps the true idea of protecting our children is to ensure that the world they live in can make moral sense for them. Men like Jerry Sandusky are in direct conflict to this view.
I look at all this anger attempting to find direction. I believe it is all rooted in the same place. We all wish to revert to our days of black and white moral innocence and simply cannot perceive an organization doing so much good being intertwined with something so bad. We anger, and tear down the organization to eliminate the evil - much like one would reformat a hard drive to eliminate a virus. The operation was a success - but the patient died.
We feel anger because it is the easiest thing to do.
We feel anger because it doesn't require thought or understanding.
We feel anger because we don't want to admit we were blind or duped.
We feel anger because it is the only way we feel like we can do something. We tear down our organization to feel like we've done something.
It becomes much more difficult to really try to sit and understand just how men like Jerry Sandusky can infiltrate an organization and erode it from within. We want to place child molesters in the view of white vans, ratty moustaches, and free candy. We cannot freely admit that our perceptions of somebody can be so wrong, so we feel angry and tear down our institutions that rely on those perceptions.
For anyone that thought they knew him, Jerry Sandusky was an avuncular and kind man. Amongst his crimes are of taking advantage of this.
We then have men like Joe Paterno. Men who were looked to because of there ability to navigate the truly grey waters of human morality. Perhaps some of our vitriol is rooted into this fact as well. Child molestation is a truly heinous crime that falls into the black of morality. The ACCUSATION and ability to DETERMINE guilt or action against such actions, however, is amongst the greyest of the grey. I believe in my heart that Joe Paterno felt his actions in response to this were sufficient to affect justice to this case. I believe in my heart that Joe Paterno realizes that he could have done more to attempt to affect justice in my case. I am not so sure that he could have.
The great irony here is that men like Joe Paterno are the exact types of men we need to guide our institutions when times of moral greyness approach. Men like Joe Paterno are capable of learning and ensuring the lessons of mistakes are never made again. However, because of his role in this capacity beforehand he is removed from any position where he could still do some good to the organization. We will now look to parse through a list of candidates that may or may not have this quality.
I never expected Joe Paterno to be perfect. If you ever did, you've lost sight of just how incredible the man actually is. Men like Joe Paterno served to live the example that we never truly understand or are able to navigate through the morally grey waters but there are many things we can do to make sure we do it the best way we can. While the University organization served to shelter a criminal for decades, by eliminating too much of the organization we have run the risk of setting our moral maturity back even farther.
Thanks for the indulgence, I had hoped to turn some of the conversation to these discussions on truly understanding what occured.
I don't post frequently, but this site has been extremely helpful in sorting through my own emotions for the past week.